(re)discovering myself

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Bonkers and Osito, hanging out next to me at the dinette – the love I feel for them is just overpowering sometimes. They truly are my kids.

You may have noticed that I sometimes post a lot more than at other times. Sometimes a blog post feels like it’s forcing its way outside of me, and other times, it feels like it can take forever to get one completed. It’s those ones that I sometimes even wonder “is it worth it to hit the Publish button?” So yes, my writing can go in spurts, both on the blog and otherwise.

My very wise friend, Dan, said to me last week that life can sometimes be like working on a puzzle. You can be going along, really well, finding one piece after another that fits in, and then all of a sudden, you can hit a point where nothing happens. Or you question why you are doing something, and get really frustrated when you can’t find that next piece. You might have little sections of the puzzle done, but the whole thing just isn’t falling into place. He’s always coming up with good sayings and then thinks to himself, “I should write this down” so this time, I’ve done it for him. (In fact, I told him that day, I just might have to use his analogy.) So there you go, Dan, your words are in print. 

At the time of our conversation, I was feeling quite down after having returned home from a trip to Vegas. Just a quick trip, but it made me feel alive again – there were lots of people there! And a CVS and a Walgreens! (And yes, I thought it was pretty sad that seeing those two stores made me feel like I was in *city life* again.)  Anyway, I digress.

I’d like to share a video with you of one of my favorite youtube channels. Brittany is a nomad and a minimalist (much more so than I could ever be, as sometimes she lives out of a backpack), but this was one of her more raw type of videos and it just really spoke to me, especially as I contemplate making more changes in my life.

My friend Dan is very wise, especially as we have only met in person once and that was during my cross-country road trip when me and all of my furballs crashed his place for two nights. He told me he thinks I’m basically two people.  And he is so right.

There is a part of me that really wants to get out and see things and experience new things and places. A part of me that constantly needs to be working toward something, a new goal, or a new plan. It’s what gets me up and keeps me feeling “up” when otherwise I might feel down or feel like I’m just treading water in place. And then there is this other part of me that needs to feel structure or feel *safe* and feel like there is enough money to do things. The part that worries about not being able to take care of my furballs or that if I do make a choice and it doesn’t work out, then I’ve screwed myself financially.

I take contentment in so many things – seeing my furballs all hanging out on the bed in my RV with the space heater blasting away, knowing they all feel comfortable enough to snooze. Dressing my little Osito in her sweater for the day when she first wakes up, so that in case the temps fall in the RV while I am at work, she can still stay warm and snuggly.

But then, there is this part of me that thinks, “there is still a lot out there for me to see and learn, and do.” It’s not FOMO (fear of missing out) but a curiosity, I think. The two are different. That’s the part of me that listens to this video of a popular RVer blogger, Becky Schade, (from Interstellar Orchard) when she was interviewed a couple years ago, and draws so much inspiration from it. She’s younger than me and wise beyond her years, and yes, I may have shared it before, but in my mind, it bears re-sharing again.

This *safe* part of me is the one that was so scared to make this last big change in my life. It’s the part that listened to all the concerns of others and let those concerns creep into my own mind. That’s the part that misses the fact that last year I had off between Christmas and New Year’s, and made so much more money. That’s the part that still occasionally asks “what the HELL are you doing, living on so little, being so far from home, having to work on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day?!” That’s the part that doesn’t even feel like it’s the holidays time of year since I’ve done no shopping at all (just sending money to the nieces and nephews, and even those amounts are pitifully small but they are all I can handle right now.) That’s the part that looks back and says (along with so many who hear my story), you left HARVARD LAW to come and scoop poop?

And yes, that is the first time I’ve mentioned publicly on this blog where I used to work. Some of you already knew that, but I’ve now taken a big breath and decided to put it out there. I know all the images the big red H conjurs up with every mention of its name. I know. But I don’t regret leaving. And no, the place was not perfect. Far from it. And no, I didn’t go to school there either (that’s a usual question I get asked.) In fact, I got rejected from there pretty instantaneously upon having applied. So I always found it a bit ironic that I was then deemed good enough to teach their students how to find things. But I digress, and I’m going to jump off of that soapbox now before I start to aggravate myself.

So, now, I’ve gone ahead and made such a big change, and while I feel a bit disappointed in that it doesn’t seem to be THE place for me to be in this world, I do know that I CAN do something a lot of people are afraid to do. A lot of people are afraid to step outside of what is the *normal* or *expected* way of life. But now I’m wondering, where exactly should I be right now, and what should I be doing? It’s that part of me that envies those I know in my life who are willing to jump in and do something adventurous. The part that looks to what my younger brother did when he would make these huge life changes, and the part that sees what my brother and sister in law are doing with traveling the world (and you can read about it by reading their blog, It’s Not a Slow Car, It’s a Fast HouseAnd  yet, even then that fearful, compare-yourself-to-others voice makes itself be heard – “but they know so much more about cars, which you don’t….”

As my friend Dan has recognized in me, I am desperately trying to find my place in this world. And as he always reminds me, I need to take a breath. It will eventually come to me, or happen.

So, in Brittany’s words – “what is it that you think you can’t do? What would be too good to be true?” Please drop me a line below and share your thoughts.  For me, right now, I think it’s to workamp starting next summer, and to always be in a place that is warm and doesn’t get snow. So it would entail moving with the seasons (or to someplace like southern California) and to do that, I need a different camper. And believe me, I go back and forth in my mind over those scenarios over and over and over again, as to which is better for me to do. Over and over, ad nauseum.

I hope you will all have a great holiday week and stay safe if you are traveling somewhere.  And as always, thanks for reading.

P.S. Yes, this is one of those posts that required me to inhale and take a VERY deep breath before hitting that Publish button. Also one that needed to be written.

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So many choices of RVs!!

There are just so many choices of RVs out there that at times I feel myself getting overwhelmed. Everyone tells me I’m in that exciting stage of things right now — the dreaming and research stage. And I agree, it’s definitely fun. But I seem to be changing my mind from month to month as to what I want. However, I think I have narrowed it down a bit by making one decision: I do NOT want to drive some huge, honking truck like a Yukon Denali or other. I just don’t feel comfortable driving such a large vehicle. Not to mention the gas that it would use on a daily basis. So…wanting to drive (at the largest end) a mid-size SUV like the Nissan xTerra helps me to narrow things down. (Very good if you are decision-impaired like me to have at least one decision sort of taken out of your own hands.)

A week and a half ago, I took a comp day from work so I could drive around to RV dealers. There is one RV dealer in all of New England who carries an expandable trailer called the Trail Manor, and they are on Cape Cod, about 90 minutes away from me. So that was the first place I went, thinking this could be the perfect solution for me. It’s lightweight (even the 2619 model has a dry weight of 2300 lbs), and doesn’t cause you to use more than one extra gallon per gas per 100 miles (or so they say.)  Because it’s an expandable trailer, you can have one that is 19-20 feet when rolled down, and 26 feet of living space when opened up. Great for me and all the furballs, right?? Well, maybe.

In a Trail Manor, I kind of feel like I’m camping. My friend, Dan, of WanderDano fame of YouTube, asked me if I thought that was a good thing or a bad thing, and I said both. At the same dealer, I checked out a more traditional travel trailer and was amazed at how much more permanent it felt. And I seemed to be drawn to that. Plus, there seemed to be a lot more storage, and many more electrical outlets. Granted, I’m not going to use every electrical appliance I own all at the same time, but unless I was missing something, I only counted four in the Trail Manor. The smallest model, the 2417, didn’t have a plug in the bathroom (what could they be thinking?) but the other models did. I’m a girl. I might need to have a plug in the bathroom, you know? 🙂 That, and I have to admit, storage is a big thing to me. From all that I have read, whatever storage you have in an RV, you never have enough. And, I honestly didn’t see a whole lot of storage capacity in the 2417. The larger models, the 2619 and 2720, I could picture maybe having enough room for all my stuff. (You have to remember, it’s not just my stuff, but that of the furballs I will be taking on this new life with me. For having such little bodies, the stuff you need to take care of them can really add up over time. Not that I am complaining, trust me, I’m not!)

So, the feeling of camping I mentioned? I like the idea of camping, but I also like the idea of permanence, even if it’s just what I am living in and carting around with me, at the same time. I thought about it, and I realized, my life is going to change in so many ways next year. I won’t have the same 9-5 job to go to every day. I won’t be living in this part of the country. If I do seasonal work, my surroundings are going to change every few months. And I’ve always needed a bit of security in my life. Ok, maybe more so than most.  That’s why the whole idea of changing my life is so exciting and at the same time, terrifying, to me.

The folks at the McD RV dealership were very nice and didn’t hover over me the whole time I was sitting in the RVs, trying to picture myself in them, long term. Not so much at the other places I went to. From there, it was on to Camping World of Berkeley,  where I was disappointed that most of the travel trailers were locked. Yep, I’m assuming that they, and most dealers, do this so you have to go ask a salesperson for help. And I didn’t want that that day – I just wanted to look inside, see the setups, see how stable or not-so-stable they felt as I stood in them. I was able to get into one trailer at Camping World, and really liked what I saw. Then I found out it was over 5000 pounds, dry-weight, so I high tailed it out of that one! No use falling in love with something you’re not gonna marry, right?

So my trip to Camping World took all of, oh, 25 minutes, and that included my trip to the ladies’ room upon arrival to change out of some of my layers. (The weather is fickle in New England, a day can start out cold and warm up like you wouldn’t believe, even at the end of September.)  I then went to a place called Campers Inn, where I was able to get into one, count it, one, travel trailer. And with my friend Dan’s help, I realized it was not even on their website, so I had no idea of how much it cost. Every single other trailer was locked, and even though some of the employees saw me, no one even bothered to ask if I wanted or  needed help. So, that was another quick visit.

I then went to Bradford RV, which was just a few miles down the road. Again, the same thing. Everything locked. Except that this time, the salesperson saw me try to open the door to an ultra-lite (by Forest River) and came out to greet me. He asked me a few questions, and some look that I can’t describe came over his face (albeit briefly) once he asked if my budget was under 10K, and I said yes. I think at this point, he thought he was being generous in showing me two different RVs, one a 16 foot model and one a 17 foot model, the cheapest of which was 12K, brand-new. He hovered the entire time, so I probably spent all of ten minutes there. He checked over the inventory of their other location to see if they had any used RVs in my price range, but no such luck.

At this point, it was somewhere around 3:30ish, so I decided to go to one more RV dealer before heading for home. My zipcar was due back at 7, and I needed to give myself a good buffer of time to get back to Boston with the rush hour traffic. (Yes, rush hour begins around 3:30 in these here parts, and yes, in case you are wondering, it does suck. Big time. Part of why I am looking to move from the big city!)

Finally, there was a dealer willing to talk to me as if I had a brain in my head, in Plainville, MA.  He spent a lot of time with me discussing hitches, amps, 12v batteries, etc.  (And when I wanted to take pics inside of a trailer, he said “you don’t need me in this picture, I’ll get out of your way!”) I went to this dealer because I knew they carried the R-Pod and I really wanted to see what they looked like on the inside. It’s one thing to see the pictures but another completely to see them in person. We talked for a while about them, and how I wanted a smaller travel trailer but that the R-Pod was definitely out of my price range.

So he showed me a 2000 Fleetwood Mallard 19N (click here for some stock photos of the same model) that was 19 feet long, and I really liked most of what I saw. It was a bit dated, but I expected that (designs on the mirrored front of the cabinets over the bed). It didn’t have a sink in the bathroom, which I admit, I want. I don’t like the idea of having to leave the bathroom to wash my hands in the kitchen sink, or to brush my teeth in the kitchen sink, all the time. That’s just me. But other than that, I liked it. And the price was right–$5,950, and they would be willing to store it for free for me until April. So…why didn’t I jump at it?? The weight. Its dry weight was already 3897 lbs, and with full tow capacity, the dealer estimated it would be about 5600 lbs. Meaning I’d need a vehicle with at least 6000 lbs towing capacity, and honestly, I’m not comfortable with having an engine working so hard. So, when push came to shove, and Dan helped me with my pro/con list and talking over my priorities (he let me come to all my own conclusions), I decided to not go for this one. The right one will come to me, he keeps assuring me. I believe him. I’ve just got to get better at the patience thing. As in, getting some….the only thing stopping me from going out and buying an RV right now, is: where do I put it?? 🙂

I have to admit…I’m really loving the idea of a molded fiberglass travel trailer like a Casita or a Scamp these days…yes, I know they are smaller, but they are lightweight, and there’s no unfolding to do, and they’re white on the inside (white is a big thing to me, I hate the look of all wood, especially dark wood.)  Whenever I sit inside of a travel trailer, I try to imagine where each of my animals would feel most comfortable, and where I would put the litterbox(es), so that I wouldn’t trip over them. My friend Dan suggested I take a bunch of stuffed animals with me and throw them all over the place to get an idea of what it would be like with all the furballs. He may just be onto something, LOL.

I have to admit, every time I go to look at RVs, it’s like another part of the dream is becoming real, slowly, oh, so slowly…I’m getting there…

I know that some of you out there are RVers, so I’d love to hear your thoughts (and even if you’re not RVers, please feel free to comment.)

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